By Fostina Mkandawire
Salima, March 31, Mana: National Aids Commission (NAC) has assured victims of Cyclone Freddy who are living with HIV and AIDS that they will ensure necessary medical assistance is found at their nearest health facilities or in the camps.
Speaking during a Malawi HIV and AIDS Partnership Forum meeting (MPF) organised by NAC in Salima, Principal Secretary responsible for Administration in the Ministry of Health who is also Chairperson for the Forum, Beston Chisamile said they have put in place measures to ensure availability of essential drugs and services.
He said once a person meets health workers who will be stationed in the camps, they are going to be assessed and given a new health passport that will be clearing them to access medical assistance at their nearest health facility.
“We do not want to have situations where people living with HIV will fail to adhere to Anti Retroviral Therapy, because they are lacking medical help,” he said.
Chisamile further revealed that they are coordinating with Non Governmental Organizations such as Population Services International (PSI) to be providing family planning services such as Condoms as means to prevent spread of sexually transmitted infections.
He said it is the right of every citizen to access health services whether they have been displaced or not, therefore they are going to be coordinating with relevant authorities and stakeholders to be in the camps regularly to be reaching out.
On the MPF meeting Chisamile said it has been held at the right time when the country is trying to recover from Cyclone Freddy because National AIDS Commission has the mandate to provide the overall coordination, monitoring and evaluation of the HIV/AIDS related activities.
“The role of NAC still applies even during natural disasters, therefore during this meeting we are also going to discuss how best HIV related interventions will be provided to flood victims in camps,” he said.
He said the main focus of the MPF is to maintain a formal representative and coordination structure for partners that are involved in the HIV and Aids response in the country. It is a decision making body in as far as the response is concerned.
Chairperson of Parliamentary Committee on HIV/AIDS and Nutrition Darlington Harawa said the committee is working closely with stakeholders to ensure that the flood victims especially people living with HIV receive necessary support.
He said the purpose of the forum is mainly discussion, information sharing, consensus building, joint planning as well as mutual support for all stakeholders involved in the National response
The Malawi HIV and AIDS Partnership Forum was established in October 2005 as a formal and representative forum for various constituencies in the National Response to the HIV and AIDS epidemic. It is the advisory body to the National AIDS Commission.
Membership to the grouping are drawn from people living with HIV, the youth, coordinating bodies such as MANASO and MANET+, the academia, the civil society, donors, implementing partners and the key populations.